Rajasthan’s beauty is simply unique! When I picture Rajasthan in my mind, everything appears to be of a beautiful golden yellow hue. Rajasthan is like a piece of gold jewellery on mother earth. The desert, the forts, the havelis, the entire yellow landscape shines under the golden sun. It is unique because there are so many green mountains, hills, rivers and sea all over the world; but a combination of vast spread out golden yellow desert with forts and havelis of the same shade, against the backdrop of a clear blue sky is a rare sight.
Winter is the ideal season to visit Rajasthan. You can enjoy the warmth of the sun and the beauty of the place best during November to February. Ours was a ten day trip starting from Jaipur.
The royal glory of Rajasthan is best showcased in Jaipur. The museum in Jaipur palace is nicely maintained showcasing the splendor of the royal family. Hawa Mahal is another amazing piece of Indian Architecture. After visiting all the monuments, we went for shopping. The handicrafts, gems, tie & dye cloth, Jaipuri rajais, jootis; Jaipur means unlimited shopping. Everything seemed so ethnic, so beautifully Indian; our shopping budget crossed our limit.
Jodhpur is a nice green city. The main attraction of Jodhpur is the Jodhpur Palace, exuding the royal elegance and charm of yester years.
After Jaipur and Jodhpur, we landed in Udaipur. Udaipur has the highest number of sightseeing places strewn all around the city and its outskirts. Apart from the mahals, bavdis and havelis, Lake Palace, one place which I personally liked most was the Ranakpur Temple. It is located a few kilometers away from Udaipur. Tourist buses take tourists in the morning and return by evening. Ranakpur is a Jain Temple made of carved marble. The architecture and carvings are like that of the famous Dilwara temple of Mt.Abu. Although Dilwara temple is bigger and more beautiful, the peace and calmness of Ranakpur lingers with you. Within the temple campus, satvik lunch is served by volunteers. Simple puri, roti, dal and subzi at the temple mess, tastes divine. The peace surrounding the temple calms the mind.
Our next stop was Jaisalmer. January being the peak tourist season in Rajasthan, its difficult to get accommodation without prior booking. Anyway, we managed to get a simple four room lodge, which served home like food. After eating in restaurants for so many days we relished the simple dal, bhat and alloo bhaja (fry). (The owner was intelligent enough to serve us Bengali food without our mentioning anything, though he himself was a local). The lodge was small, but view from its terrace was romantically breathtaking. On one side was the famous ‘Sonar Kella’(Satyajit Ray’s movie)- the Jaisalmer Fort, on the other side was a part of a palace where a song for film ‘Rudali’ was shot .On one side was the small town and the rest – all desert as far as your eyes could see. It was beautiful.
The outer view of the Jaislmer fort is quite enchanting. But when we entered the fort, I was really shocked and disappointed. Actually, inner lower part of the fort has a thriving residential colony complete with electric and water supplies. (God knows how long such an ancient structure can bear the burden of a modern township. It is dangerous for the people living there. Also, we might loose a beautiful heritage to sheer negligence). The upper part of the fort has been retained as it was for the tourists. The jharokhas, doors, pillars are so intricately carved, you wonder at the immense patience of the artisans. When you look out of the jharokhas your imagination will promptly fly back to the days of the queens and princesses, sitting by the jharokhas and gossiping.
Same is with the havelis of Jaisalmer. All made of yellow stone and sand, every haveli is well planned according to vaastu. The carved designs are different at every place, showing boundless creativity.
T he sand dunes of Jaisalmer are just unforgettable. It appears like a vast yellow ochre sea with high and low tides till the horizon. Camel ride on the sand dunes felt like – as if we were some character from the Arabian Nights. My brother and I went a little further on foot. After a while when we looked back, we realized we have walked away quite a distance. No one was visible beyond the high and low dunes. Tracing our way back by our footprints, we hurried. But…., a sandstorm (quite frequent in the desert) wiped away all footprints. We panicked, but we reached the spot where all the tourists were there. The calm was just like that of the high mountains and the boundless seas. It became more evident as the sun was about to set. I wished the sun would go down more slowly. I wished I could stay there for a couple of days and watch the sunrise too. But we had a tight schedule. Chittore was next in our itinery.
As it was almost evening by the time we reached Chittore, we hired a Tonga for local sightseeing. (I t was a funny experience, as the poor horse badly wanted to return home.) The Chittore fort, the longest fort in India, is the main attraction in Chittore. As we entered the fort and visited one site after the other, inside the fort, pages of history from ‘Amar Chitra Katha’ ( that we were very fond of) seemed to come alive. The Chittoregarh fort has so many tales to tell, its really worth a visit. It has the temple where Mira Bai worshipped her beloved Lord Krishna, the site of Johar by Rani Padmini and other women of the kingdom, the Vijay Stambh and many more. History seemed to spring alive inside the fort.
Chittore was the last destination of our Rajasthan trip. We missed out on Bikaner, Boondi and Ajmer due to time constraint. Hope to visit them soon!
Rajasthan is surely a must visit for every travel, nature and art loving person. It’s an entirely different shade of nature; one that brings out life’s beauty in simple, humble hues.